Counting your calories seems easy and effective, right? Wrong. In this article, I give you 6 reasons why counting calories is bad for your health and weight loss goals. Learn how you can take control of not only what you eat, but your life.
If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, then chances are you’ve come across the idea of counting calories. Tons of weight loss programmes have an underlining strategy that’s based on counting calories (think of Weight Watchers).
These diets promote calorie counting because of how weight loss works: when the calories you take in are lower than what you expend, you lose weight. Counting calories, in addition to other methods, is perhaps one of the most prevalent ways to achieve this “negative energy balance.”
However, many weight loss newbies (or even some advanced weight loss “experts”) assume that counting calories is an exact science. But I’m here to tell you that it’s not.
Knowing the pitfalls of counting calories and how calorie-counting is detrimental to your mind and body will help you to create a healthy relationship with your food. And yes, you’ll still lose weight while not counting your calories.
Now, let’s look at some of these pitfalls. You’ll understand why counting calories isn’t a sustainable solution for your weight loss goals.
#1. Not All the Calories That You’re Having Are Equal
At Lean & Healthy, we coach Muslims around the world to become lean and healthy for life. We also teach our clients why the quality of a certain food is more important than the quantity. As part of this method, we teach our clients that not all calories are equal.
When counting calories, people usually don’t take the quality of their food into consideration. They just want to make sure that they don’t exceed their pre-calculated “2000 calories a day.
But that’s totally dangerous. Just think about it. If you had the choice of eating a 200 calories banana or 200 calories candy bar, which do you think is better for your health? You know the correct answer.
Though both are equal in calories, the banana has all the beneficial nutrients that your body needs, whereas a candy bar has almost zero nutritional value.
So, you need to be aware of the fact that not all calories are equal.
#2. You Look at Life through a Restrictive Lens
Research is clear about this: counting calories creates a mindset programmed to think only of restrictions.
It puts your brain into counting mode and, therefore, restricts you to numbers. As soon as your brain perceives deprivation, it’ll start to rebel and want more of what it is being deprived of. So, that’s when you’ll start to notice issues such as binge eating!
In this case, you achieve exactly the opposite of what you want to achieve. Yep, it’s totally counterproductive.
#3. You Start to Obsess About Food
Research shows that people who count calories think more often about food than those who aren’t counting.
We surely have more things to do than always be thinking about food, agreed?
Of course, obsessing about food also leads to a bad relationship with your food. You start to demarcate the food that you eat into “good” and “bad” foods. And all of these issues are destructive to your mind and body.
I’m not saying that there aren’t foods that you should avoid (e.g. candy bars), but eliminating entire food groups or depriving yourself of certain foods is very risky to your health. Variety was created by Allah (SWT) for a reason.
#4. The Way You’re Calorie Counting Is Largely Inaccurate
The calorie counts on food labels can differ wildly from the calories you actually extract, which means that counting calories is very inaccurate. What do I mean by this?
Well, researchers estimate that even meticulously counting your calories can lead your count being up to 25% off. This means, that while you’re trying to maintain a designed 2000 calories diet, you may be eating anywhere between 1500 and 2500 calories. That’s a whopping 500 calories that haven’t been accounted for!
To give you few examples:
- A calorie content of a medium-sized apple can be anywhere from 80 – 115 calories
- A calorie content of a cup of carrot can be anywhere from 40 – 60 calories
- A calorie content of a serving of steak (around 225g) can be anywhere from 350 – 500 calories
This is due to the simple reason that foods in nature exhibit variations in composition, size and other factors. These differences show the wide gaps in caloric content.
#5. How You Prepare Your Food Impacts its Caloric Load
Let’s say for the argument sake, that you know exactly how many calories this piece of steak has. You used a scale and you know that it’s exactly 225g and has 400 calories.
You certainly don’t eat the steak raw, right? I assume you most probably barbeque it. This simple way of cooking impacts the calorie load of your steak. Yep, your 400 calorie steak is now 500 calories (its calories has increased by 25%) just because you’ve cooked it. This is before you’ve even added anything else.
So, here is what you need to know: cooking, blending or even chopping your food generally makes more of the calories available for absorption.
Which leads to my next point…
#6. How You Absorb Your Food Matters
Ok, let’s say you’ve somehow created a super complex excel sheet and found out exactly how many calories your cooked steak has. You think the problem is solved, right? Nope!
Here’s the problem, up to 10% of what you eat doesn’t get absorbed in your body. And just for the record, carbs are better absorbed than protein.
So, if you want to figure out how many calories of this steak is absorbed to your body, then you need to know that your body and your digestive process are far too chaotic to accurately churn out neat calorific numbers. Even if two people eat the same steak, cooked the same way, they will not get the same number of calories out of it.
Depending on what type of bacteria your gut has, you could absorb up to 150 more calories than your own sibling.
Now, go and calculate that 🙂
Habits-Based Coaching: The Solution to Your Problem
I can see you scratching your head. You’re thinking, “but Rushdhi, how do I then lose weight and maintain it for a lifetime?”
To maintain a life-long lean and healthy body, don’t search for shortcuts such as calorie counting. Focus on building healthy habits. Results don’t come from how much you know, they come from how much you do consistently!
And if you are wondering how to change your habits, join Lean and Healthy’s Premium Coaching Programme. This Programme will help you:
- Learn the tried and well-researched methods to losing weight
- Create and sustain healthy habits, and the most important…
- Lose weight and stay healthy for life without counting calories!
Don’t let your life be controlled by weight-loss methods that don’t work. Sign up for our Pre-Sale list and join the countless people who’ve lost weight and seen major transformations in their lives.